Fire

The severe 2019/20 bushfires continued until February,
but fire activity was very low otherwise.

The 2019/20 saw unprecedented fire activity in southeast Australia, with new fires in southern NSW, Eastern Victoria and the ACT in January and February. 

The area burnt in NSW, ACT and Victoria in 2020 was less than in 2019, but still 2.2 times the 2000-2019 average.

Nationally the area burnt was unusually small. This was mainly due to very low fire activity in inland Australia, which could be attributed to low fuel availability after prolonged dry conditions.

Total area burnt was 17 Mha. 90% below the 2000–2019 average and 88% less than the previous year.

Burnt area extent by local government area
Rank of burnt area extent by local government area

Continued very dry fuel and hot weather explain the high fire activity in southeast Australia.

Remotely sensed fuel moisture content provides a measure of fuel load and flammability. Nationally, the minimum value during 2020 remained close to the record low levels observed the previous year.

Record low fuel moisture was observed along the East coast in early 2020. Values increased after February.

Total fire carbon emissions were below average at 80 Mt carbon: 43% below the 2000–2019 average and 53% less than in the previous year.

Unusually, but for a second year, the largest part of emissions originated from forest fires in southern Australia. Smoke and ash produced by bushfires in southeast Australia were observed as far as New Zealand. 

Fire carbon emissions by bioregion
 Average fire carbon emissions by bioregion